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International Travel… with Baby

06 Jun Posted by in Family Life, Travels | Comments
International Travel… with Baby
Upon arriving to Dusseldorf airport last week, we parked the car (a bit further than normal), went inside and got in line to check our bags… and to check ourselves in.

With almost every trip, traveling with an in-lap child means no online check in; it doesn’t work. We waited our turn as Fynn started to become unruly. Kay released him from stroller captivity (against my initial instinct) but this calmed Fynn and Kay was the one chasing him around.

The line wasn’t too long, but suddenly (and thankfully) I remembered that the car seat was still in the car. Kay rushed back to grab the seat while I crammed Fynn back into his stroller since chasing him and attending to the luggage wasn’t an option.

As I attempted to put Fynn back in the stroller, he naturally screamed and I got a bunch of looks from passersby. This is about the time that I said, “This international plane ride is going to be AWESOME!” and suddenly understood why parents give their children Benadryl just before take-off.

Since Fynn refused to go back in the stroller, I ended up balancing him on the top of the cart just in front of all the luggage.

While waiting in line, Fynn continued to be upset and I knew that everyone else was just praying they wouldn’t be assigned a seat next to us.

As the airline agent called out, “Next,” I awkwardly pushed the cart forward with my left hand and a balancing baby on top while also pushing the stroller with my right.

Just then, Kay returned, car seat in-hand, and just as I made it to the counter.

After handing over all of our documents and answering a few questions, the agent’s system suddenly went down.

We waited for the next available agent and of course, there was something wrong with our tickets.

Why do we always seem to have such bad luck checking in at the airport?

Luckily this time, the main ticket counter was just across the way and not on the other side of the terminal like the last time when we were in Frankfurt. Kay ran ahead of Fynn and me to get things started, and again Fynn started to throw a tantrum.

Kay asked where Fynn’s pacifier (Schnuller) was and I reluctantly got it out; the binki is reserved for sleeping only, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

My worst fears of flying alone with a tantrum-throwing 18-month-old seemed to be coming true and we weren’t even on the plane, let alone through security yet.

Thank you, Kay for suggesting the pacifier, because that did the trick for most of the trip. Sometimes I guess you just have to let go of some rules.

Overall, the almost 9-hour flight went smoothly. No major meltdowns… from either of us. I wasn’t ready to cry until we landed, customs took too long while Fynn was sitting in a harness on my back with a diaper explosion leaking through.

Once we reached the bathroom, he wouldn’t sit still to let me change him, so what was only a blow-out in his pants soon turned into poop all over his shirts, socks, bathroom floor (yep, no changing table) and then a button busted off his top shirt.

The button kept him occupied for a short time, in fact, long enough for me to wipe up any poop that went astray. But just as I was thinking, “When did you eat corn?” I heard a little plop sound from the toilet and realized Fynn had thrown the button in the uncovered bowl.

I may wipe up daily baby poop, but I draw the line at putting my hand in a public toilet to grab a unique-colored button for which I know the color cannot be replaced.

So by the time I was trying to throw heavy luggage on the cart and then pushing it slow enough so as not to have the car seat fall off the top and hit the baby sitting in the stroller next to it… yes, I was over-tired and almost in tears.

The people of Miami aren’t the most helpful and it wasn’t until pushing both the cart and the stroller through the last door to the pick-up location that a nice couple offered to assist.

But the flight itself, the time I most feared… the good Lord answered my prayers and this went smoothly.

This is my third time flying alone internationally with Fynn. And each trip has meant different items required for travel and each time I have learned something new.

What works for us:

1.)    Stroller and Gate check

2.)    Aisle Seat – Demand one if you have to. And even if the airline doesn’t announce boarding with children first, don’t hesitate to get up there with people in wheelchairs and first class boarding. I have never been turned away and never regretted taking advantage of that extra time.

3.)    Harness – We use the Ergo, but a harness is the only way I can get Fynn to sleep on the plane. When Fynn was younger, I debated whether or not to bring the Boppy… despite its size, I was glad I did because Fynn wouldn’t sleep in the airline bassinet and my arms wouldn’t have been free at any point otherwise.

4.)    Bottle for take-off and landing – This trip I used juice instead of milk. Normally Fynn drinks only water, but you can bet he sucked down the juice in record time while experiencing zero problems with pressure in his ears. I prepared this for him in advance. I also included snacks and food which Fynn ate in addition to half of my meals that were provided by the airline. I was really hungry when we landed. For past flights, I pre-poured the formula into containers and had the water waiting in the bottles. Fynn was trained early to drink cold bottles.

5.)    Change of clothes for both of us – And we needed his extra set upon landing. We needed them prior to going through customs, but unfortunately that wasn’t an option.

6.)    Toys – New Toys and pretty much anything that is normally forbidden at home – Luckily the airline gave us a little box with new things inside. Everything else I packed he had seen before and they weren’t as interesting. Also, Kay loaded some of Fynn’s favorite TV shows to the touch pad and his favorite music to the MP3. We purchased children’s headphones in advance and a splitter so I could listen too.

7.)    Accepting help from others – I’m not one to bother other people or feel that I am being a burden, but when traveling alone with a baby? I am not hesitant to ask for assistance from my fellow passengers and/or accept if they offer. Helping pour juice or dry formula was a big help while trying to hold baby.

8.)    Methodically packing – this time I used a small, rolling carry-on bag and put Fynn’s diaper bag and other items inside; it was a mishmash of different items. I knew once we got off the plane I wouldn’t have the stroller so I would put Fynn in the harness on my back to help prevent inevitable back pain, and then wheel the bag behind. I also used an extremely large purse since I always have a bunch of electronics and then I could rest the purse on top of the rolling bag.

9.)    Bag/Cover for car seat – This wasn’t essential, but I packed the good car seat and I didn’t want it getting all banged up and dirty while being checked. I think the bag was about 10 Euro on Amazon and it got pretty beat up by the airline. Better a cheap bag than an expensive car seat though. Airlines don’t provide car seat bags, although I’ve read that they seem to have bags to cover golf clubs.

10.) Diapers and other baby products – For anyone going to the US from Germany, formula, diapers and most essential baby products are cheaper in Germany. Since my husband will inevitably go on a shopping spree in the US (he has some kind of outlet mall tracking system embedded in his body) packing these items isn’t a problem because once they are used, that leaves room in the bags for his new clothes while returning home. We also put the baby pack ‘n play in a suitcase so it would be one less thing for me to pile onto the cart upon arrival, but on the way home, we can check it separately at no charge. Thank you, Air Berlin.

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